When I travel somewhere, I have a habit of reading a book that's set in that location. I think I got into this in college when I studied abroad in Cape Town. Our whole curriculum was based on reading about South Africa and it's history. It was crazy to me to step inside of Nelson Mandela's prison cell after reading his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom and to try and fathom what living there for decades would have been like.
Since then, I've read:
Out of Africa while on safari in Kenya which helped me to better appreciate the beautiful landscapes I was traveling through.
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children while traveling in India, which made me think more about the people I was meeting and their stories. Photo above is me in India :)
First they Killed My Father in Cambodia, a beautiful memoir, that gave me a greater understanding of the country's sad, fairly recent, history from a more personal perspective.
I'm not the only one who does this, Amy Schumer's been reading James Michener's Hawaii while shooting there. And that's exactly what I was reading on the long flight to Hawaii for work earlier this month!
Lest you think I only read books that you might find on a 10th grade summer reading list, I enjoyed a variety of Liane Moriaty books, mostly set in and around Sydney, while traveling in Australia. I'd suggest any of her books as a good vacation read, whether you're Down Under or not!
I did make one terrible mistake though. I attempted to read Déjà Dead while I was traveling by myself in Montreal last summer. It's about a serial killer who preys on women who are alone in Montreal.
Great idea Jenny.
I spent my last day there convinced I was being followed and chose to order room service instead of venturing even as far as the hotel lobby for dinner. Photo above is me pretending to be scared, ironically, just before I sat down for a long lunch where I read and freaked myself out for real :)
PS. You don't have to travel to do this! No matter where you live, there's probably a book or two set there. My favorite Seattle books coming next week!